LAREDO, Texas (Jan. 21, 2019) – Laredo Mayor and Texas Border Coalition Chairman (TBC) Pete Saenz today announced the Texas Border Compact, a plan to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and break the impasse in Washington that has closed nine U.S. government departments and dozens of federal agencies.
”The Texas Border Compact emerges from meetings TBC officials had last week with President Trump, U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and local stakeholders,” Saenz said. “It is informed by our deep understanding as local government officials have of the challenges that confront border communities and what works best to provide security for U.S. citizens.”
The compact is built on three bipartisan legislative pillars sponsored by Texas representatives in Congress and founded on bipartisan legislation recently enacted by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Gary Peters, D-Mich.
The three pillars of the Texas Border Compact are:
- The bipartisan Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology (SMART) Act sponsored by U.S. Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, to require the deployment of the most practical and effective border security technologies to secure the border, in consultation with local stakeholders (including county and municipal elected officials), based on a mile-by-mile cost justification. The bill requires the immediate eradication of carrizo cane and salt cedar on the banks of the Rio Grande River to give Border Patrol unimpeded line-of-site to interdict illegal crossers.
- The bipartisan Border and Port Security Act sponsored by U.S. Reps. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, and Peter King, R-N.Y., would require the hiring of 500 new customs inspectors and 100 new agricultural inspectors each year at the the international border crossings, known as ports of entry until the total number of officers equals the requirements identified each year in the annual Workload Staffing Model; Homeland Security officials told Congress in 2018 that the department is 4,000 officers short today.
- A yet-to-be-introduced bill announced by Rep. Vela to provide $4 billion to modernize ports of entry to address the deficit identified by Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan during congressional hearings last year.
These provisions would be subject to the United States Ports of Entry Threat and Operational Review Act, sponsored by Sens. Cornyn and Peters and recently signed into law by President Trump, which requires a six-month in-depth analysis of the strengths, opportunities, and vulnerabilities of ports of entry to identify modernization needs in terms of personnel, technology and infrastructure.
TBC Chairman Saenz notes that border security is needed both at the ports of entry, where 90 percent of the hard drugs are smuggled into the U.S. and between the ports where most illegal entries occurs.
“We agree with our bipartisan leaders in Congress that between the ports we need a smart wall built with high-tech resources like sensors, radar, LIDAR, fiber optics, drones and cameras to detect and then track incursions across our border so we can deploy efficiently our most important resource, the men and women of Border Patrol to perform the most difficult task – interdiction,” Saenz said.
“At the ports of entry, we need the personnel, technology and infrastructure that will enable our customs and agricultural inspectors to more effectively achieve their goals of stopping illegal trafficking and facilitating legitimate trade and travel,” he continued.
“Our nation has no time to wait. The government shutdown over the issues of border security needs to be resolved immediately so that we can get the country back to work. The Texas Border Coalition wants the nation to know that local leaders working with our elected officials in Congress have the know-how and local knowledge needed to implement effective border security that meets the challenge,” Saenz concluded.
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About the Texas Border Coalition
The Texas Border Coalition (TBC) is a collective voice of border mayors, county judges, economic development commissions focused on issues that affect 2.5 million people along the Texas-Mexico border region and economically disadvantaged counties from El Paso to Brownsville. TBC is working closely with the state and federal government to educate, advocate, and secure funding for transportation, immigration and border security, workforce development, economic development and health care. For more information, visit the coalition website at www.texasbordercoalition.org. Follow TBC on Facebook and Twitter [#TXBorderCoalition] to keep up to date on all of the latest news about the coalition and its activities.
Julie Hillrichs, (972) 971-0117